Thermobimetal shutters by Doris Sung self-regulate the temperature of buildings

Thermobimetal shutters by Doris Sung

Buildings could be cooled with zero energy using the Invert shading system, made from a smart material called thermobimetal that changes shape in response to heat.

The invention of architect Doris Sung, Invert looks like a regular decorative shutter, but its metal pieces curl and flip over in the sun, altering how much light and heat can enter a space.

They make use of thermobimetal — a double-layered composite of two metal alloys, one that expands in heat more quickly than the other. The result is that the material warps. As the heated metal pieces warp they move and block the light.

Huge amount of energy used to cool buildings

Sung, who is based at the University of Southern California School of Architecture, has been working with thermobimetals for years in the hope that they can help cut fossil fuel emissions from the heating and cooling of buildings.

She points to statistics that show 38 per cent of energy consumption in the USA comes from residential and commercial buildings, and nine per cent was just from cooling.

Attention tends to be given to cars and factories but buildings consume huge amounts of energy

“There’s so much attention on automobiles and coal-burning factories, but buildings are using more than so many of these other industries,” she told Dezeen.

She quit architectural practice and moved into research to try to address this problem.

“I was a little frustrated as an architect, because we’re limited by the kinds of materials you can specify,” said Sung. “I thought, if I could do anything to try to reduce [energy use], even by one percent, that would be a really big deal.”

Bimetallic coil in a thermostat inspired the design

Her search for a material that could change and move without energy led her to the home thermostat. These typically contain a bimetallic coil that switches on the heating or cooling. Sung wanted to see if she could use this same principle to make a surface material.

She has created several installations with the thermobimetal over the years. The most recent, Fuller at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, was inspired by Buckminster Fuller‘s geodesic dome and used the material’s special properties for the purposes of connector-free assembly instead of heat regulation.

But Invert is the first product to come from her research. Having cleared the prototyping stage, Sung hopes to have it in production within the next year, following testing.

The idea is to one day offer several designs, but the current prototype features oval, leaf-like pieces of a thermobimetal that combines nickel, manganese, copper and iron.

The pieces are thin, almost like foil, and Sung says that when they move, they seem like fluttering butterflies.

System sits within double glazing of office blocks

In the Invert system, they sit inside the cavity of a standard double-glazed window. Sung admits this partially obscures the view, but only on a level similar to fritted glass.

She argues that in some ways, the views through Invert are more true than that in a typical office building with floor-to-ceiling windows, because those rely on protective coatings.

Thermobimetal shutters by Doris Sung
The double-layered composite of two metal alloys in the Invert system warps in the heat

“When you’re inside these buildings, even though you think that you have a full view, you’re actually looking out as if you have been wearing dark sunglasses all day long,” she told Dezeen. “With Invert, we can get super high colour spectrum, retain about 70 per cent of the view, as well as get natural, indirect daylight.”

Facade of the building develops “personality”

Given this, Sung believes Invert will have good wellness outcomes, but is curious to see if any adverse effects arise when the material is tested in situ on an office building this summer. There’s a chance some workers will find the movement distracting or annoying.

Smart materials that regulate heat are an area of active research, with the University of Maryland creating a fabric from nanotube-coated fibres and MIT showcasing one activated by bacteria. But few are working on an architectural scale like Sung.

She sometimes calls thermobimetal a “living” material, not only because it looks and moves like something biological, but because it has “a mind of its own”. Her team has even made little low-tech robots out of it, that seem to have a personality because of the way they waddle and scoot.

“There’s a certain responsibility that I think is new to architects in that we can also map a personality onto a building,” she said.

“I feel like with my materials, I could make a building facade annoying to you, I can make it pleasant, I can make it happy. We can almost give emotional value to facades by now making them move. People will react to them as if they are alive.”

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Laura Álvarez Architecture transforms stone ruin into zero-energy Villa Slow

Villa Slow by Laura Alvarez

This holiday home in Spain by Laura Álvarez Architecture is built from the walls of a stone ruin and generates more energy that it consumes.

Named Villa Slow, the dwelling replaces a former ruin found in rolling hills in the natural park of Valles Pasiegos.

It is designed to have minimal impact on its environment, and relies on an air-heat pump with a low-temperature heating system and high-quality insulation to maximise its energy efficiency.

Villa Slow by Laura Alvarez

“The house is connected to the electrical network, as in Spain you are not allowed to build without this connection,” studio founder Laura Álvarez told Dezeen.

“The heat-pump is connected to the network and produces five kilowatts of energy for each kilowatt that it takes from the network. So, it produces more energy that it consumes, therefore you can call it a zero-energy home.”

Villa Slow by Laura Alvarez

Visually, Villa Slow is designed to be deliberately simple. It is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional cabaña pasiega – a type of barn house typically found in the Cantabrian mountains.

It features a chunky slate roof and rough stone walls, which are punctured by large windows framing views of the valley.

Villa Slow by Laura Alvarez

The windows are made from high-performance glass, designed to warm up the interior in the winter, while big wooden shutters that sit externally are designed to protect it from heat gain in the summer.

In contrast to its exterior, Laura Álvarez Architecture designed Villa Slow’s interiors to be bright and minimal, creating a calm atmosphere while retaining focus on the views outside.

Villa Slow by Laura Alvarez

Characterising the interiors is an exposed vaulted timber roof that runs throughout, and has been carefully engineered to negate the need for a central beam.

“I really wanted the beams, which form the roof, to not interrupt by anything. A central beam would break this beautiful rhythm,” added Álvarez.

Villa Slow by Laura Alvarez

At the heart of the house, there is a large open-plan kitchen, living and dining area, which looks out through the giant windows positioned on either side.

Meanwhile, service areas, bathrooms and bedrooms are concealed within two large cubes, which Laura Álvarez Architecture slotted into the frame of the house at either end.

Villa Slow by Laura Alvarez

The bedrooms feature glazed doors that open out to the landscape, and are complete with mezzanine levels above the bathrooms.

These little hideaways are accessed by ladders and topped by a roof window. They are intended as spaces to relax, read or sleep.

Villa Slow by Laura Alvarez

Complementing the wooden roof, wooden detailing crafted by a local carpenter also features throughout.

Alongside a chestnut kitchen top, the bathroom shelves and fireplace are made of chestnut, while the dining table is made from oak.

Villa Slow by Laura Alvarez

To complete the interiors, Laura Álvarez Architecture added an abundance of classic furniture, including vintage desks, chairs and sideboards.

Notable pieces include Arne Vodder dining chairs and cocktail armchairs by Theo Ruth.

Villa Slow by Laura Alvarez

“For me the most special thing in the house is that it feels very much in balance,” concluded Álvarez.

“The symmetry, the clear layout, the alignments, you can really feel it when you are there. It is exactly what I was looking for when I designed it – a place to find peace.”

Villa Slow by Laura Alvarez

Laura Álvarez Architecture is a young architecture studio based in Amsterdam, founded in 2008 by Laura Álvarez. In 2012, it completed an apartment in its home city that features a statement white steel staircase.

Earlier this year, Andreia Garcia Architectural Affairs and Diogo Aguiar Studio also created a minimal hillside holiday home. Named Pavilion House, it is lined with timber and conceals secret spaces within its walls.

Photography is by David Montero.


Project credits

Architect: Laura Álvarez Architecture
Contractor: SOAL inversiones
Interior wood works: Carpinteria Astillero

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The “Khan” might be the most otherworldly BMW bike ever made

Pretty much bridging the gap between concept bikes and concept art for games and movies, Mehmet Doruk Erdem’s “Khan” is an eclectic mix of unbelievable, dangerous, and beautiful. However, if you’ve followed Mehmet’s work in the past, you know exactly what level of aesthetic beauty the Turkish designer works on. Khan, in many ways is classic Mehmet, but at the same time it’s just surreal for us mere mortals who have, up until now, only seen relatively normal-looking motorbikes.

Erdem’s “Khan” concept takes a BMW R 1100 R twin-cylinder boxer engine and giving them an absolutely new lease of life, with a front-heavy wasp-inspired exterior and an almost naked frame at the rear, much like Erdem’s Alpha concept, and dominated by an extremely large rear wheel, and a seat in the middle, resting on a twin-suspension. There isn’t much method to Erdem’s madness, or maybe I don’t spot it, but the Khan is surely a beautiful beast. Unique from practically every angle, the Khan has a remarkable silhouette no matter where you stand… and it especially looks dangerous from the front. I mean, I wouldn’t want to be standing in the path of the Khan as it zoomed towards me!

Designer: Mehmet Doruk Erdem

This Smart Mini Projector is literally the size of a VHS Tape

You know you’ve come far when you can actually measure progress… like physically measure it. The iPod, when it launched, was roughly the size of an audio cassette, and it held almost a 1000 times more songs than the cassette ever did. The Konka Smart Mini Projector concept shows off a projector that’s about the size of a VHS tape, fitting an entire movie experience into the palm of your hand.

The Smart Mini Projector was created as a concept by Shenzhen-based designer and Konka’s industrial Design Director ‘c www.h’, and highlights how far we’ve come in the past few years. Konka, virtually a pioneer of television technology in China, has its own line-up of pocket projectors, and the Smart Mini Projector is poised to be the sleekest and most advanced of the lot, with an in-built smart interface, controlled by the projector’s own remote control. The projector comes with its fair share of ports, including a USB, Type-C, HDMI, SD Card Reader, and headphone aux, and has a press-to-activate base that lets you adjust the projector’s angle for optimal viewing… and given its incredibly compact size, the projector can be carried around with you, giving you a great viewing experience wherever you go because Netflix on a 6-inch screen is absolute blasphemy.

Designer: c www.h

adidas Unveils Zero Waste Plan, Starting with 100% Recyclable Sneakers

Before we get into the details of adidas’ heady new footwear release, let’s give it some context: over the past few years, adidas has led three main initiatives—Parley, Futurecraft and Speedfactory. Through a partnership with Parley, adidas’ line of footwear and apparel made primarily from recycled ocean plastic signified a shift towards environmental awareness for the brand. Before Parley works with a company to produce product, they require a pledge from the company, essentially stating their actionable plan to implement less plastic into their production process. The Parley initiative paid off for adidas: the collaboration resulted in a product that is in the hands of consumers today, and it positioned adidas as a fast fashion company who at least cared about the environment enough to try.

Then there are Speedfactory and Futurecraft, which both focus more on customization and innovation with industrial processes. “Speedfactories” are actual facilities (the first was in Germany) that focus on streamlining the process of customization and creating unique product based on the individual consumer’s needs. Futurecraft is the company’s all encompassing label for innovative projects, most notably producing the Futurecraft 4Ds, a runner with a liquid 3D printed midsole designed in partnership with Carbon. The goal with Futurecraft 4D was also customization, as the 3D printing process is able to yield personalized midsoles with specific density placement based on the individual user’s need.

Parley, Speedfactory and Futurecraft were kept separate with a little overlap here and there, but adidas just announced a new product and business strategy under the Futurecraft umbrella that appears to combine important elements from all three initiatives.

Futurecraft.loop is an approach to designing shoes that are made to be remade by using only one material (100% reusable TPU) and no glue. The TPU is treated in a variety of ways to create a full shoe, including being spun into yarn, knitted, molded and clean-fused to a BOOST midsole. The process employs the use of SPEEDFACTORY technology, which combines the sustainable effort with the quick manufacturing of special models.

After the shoes are worn to death, they are meant to be returned to adidas where they are washed, ground up into pellets and melted into material to create a new pair of shoes. The process yields zero waste, and no material is ever thrown away.

Instead of releasing yet another sneaker, adidas is releasing an entire system, which we’re curious to see put in place—hopefully sometime in 2021. adidas has already proven their ability to innovate in the material space and manufacture customized products at a relatively high speed, so now comes the real challenge: pulling knowledge from their past efforts to implement a true closed loop, zero waste system as part of their business model. Their proposed system also involves empowering consumers to return used shoes to be reused and remade into the next pair. How will this process be communicated and designed? Will consumers care enough to put in the effort of returning old shoes? Only time will tell, but for now 200 testers will have their hands on a beta pair to help adidas run through a simulation of what the future of adidas could look like.

‘Mesa’ Combines a Planter and Hand-held Vacuum Into a Surprisingly Elegant Solution!

One’s designed to hold dirt, the other’s designed to eliminate dirt. Sam Lavoie says there’s no reason the two of them can’t get along! The Mesa, designed as an entry for Render Weekly’s design challenge, combines a planter and a hand-held vacuum cleaner into a singular form. The result is a design that’s decorative, utilitarian, and creates a pretty harmonious partnership between two unlikely categories and products.

The Mesa makes for a pretty decorative planter to be placed inside your house, along with a nice indoor plant. Sam capitalized on the fact that planters are usually placed against walls and near power outlets, giving you a product that can easily be plugged into a socket in the wall quite inconspicuously. The vacuum fits right in the planter and charges once docked, and can be easily used by pulling it out and powered using the standby button on the base. The vacuum’s design elegantly complements the planter, and while home appliances usually come in pretty standard glossy finishes and in black or white, the Mesa explores earthy terracotta as a potential color and texture for the vacuum and the planter. Needless to say, it clearly works!

Designer: Sam Lavoie for Render Weekly

Currently Crowdfunding: A Better Screwdriver, a Vertical Garden That Will Actually Fit in Your Space and More

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Navigating the world of crowdfunding can be overwhelming, to put it lightly. Which projects are worth backing? Where’s the filter to weed out the hundreds of useless smart devices? To make the process less frustrating, we scour the various online crowdfunding platforms to put together a weekly roundup of our favorite campaigns for your viewing (and spending!) pleasure. Go ahead, free your disposable income:

By now there are plenty of indoor gardening systems to choose from, but this one sets itself apart with a super small footprint (it’ll only take up 2.5 square feet of floor space) and a fully automated hydroponic system so even brown thumbs can enjoy the benefits of gardening.

A spinner wheel on the handle of this upgraded screwdriver system maximizes torque so you can get your projects done with less effort.

Here’s a waterproof, lightweight cushion that you can throw on any seat to immediately transform it into an ergonomic one. It’s designed to keep your back straight, shoulders up and ensure that your body achieves its natural S-Curve.

Can a lamp remind us of the value of energy? The DINA lamp seeks to do just that—you’ll have to insert a coin to get it to work. But this is just a gentle reminder: the amount you put in won’t impact how long you can keep the light on. To turn it off, you just pull the wooden nob and the coin will fall into the wooden base, where you can retrieve it at any time.

The Narwal robot mop and vacuum will clean your floors then go to its nifty dock where it will clean itself before it goes back out there and does it again!

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Jendretzki Design proposes Rat Island eco-retreat for New York City

Rat Island private island boutique resort in New York City by Jendretzki Design

US studio Jendretzki Design has revealed designs for a boutique eco-resort on a tiny island within greater New York City.

The local studio has envisioned Rat Island for an isle off the city’s Bronx borough. It is one of the 44 isles that make up the New York archipelago, but the only one that is privately owned.

Rat Island private island boutique resort in New York City by Jendretzki Design

Jendretzki Design chose the scheme’s unusual name as a riff on a few local tales.

“The island was originally named Rattle Island, referring to rattles that the locals used to warn sailors about rocks,” Jendretzki Design told Dezeen.

“The island’s current name is not only a shortening of Rattle, but also refers to the escaped prisoners – rats – who would hide on the island.”

Rat Island private island boutique resort in New York City by Jendretzki Design

Renderings released by the studio showcase the early stages of a conceptual scheme for the island, which is currently only used for day trips by the owner.

“We are currently doing zoning analysis to determine variances needed so we can expand the current buildable setbacks,” said the studio.

Rat Island private island boutique resort in New York City by Jendretzki Design

“We are planning to develop an eco-boutique resort or retreat with individual pods or cabins, in addition to the main house,” it added.

The island is located halfway between Pelham Islands’ City Island and Hart Island, and south of High Island. It is part of the City Island Harbor and the greater Long Island Sound. The location is ideal for a nature retreat close to the urban core.

Rat Island private island boutique resort in New York City by Jendretzki Design

“It is a unique location and opportunity for hospitality or even as a residential project, given that it’s 30 minutes away from Central Park, but hosting features usually impossible to find so close to a large urban metropolis,” said the studio, “ideal to escape the stress of New York City.”

Rat Island private island boutique resort in New York City by Jendretzki Design

In this concept, the island is populated by gabled cabins made from wood and glass.

Cabins would run along the edge of the island to be as close to the water as possible. Large windows placed at each end of the cabins would offer water or inland views.

Rat Island private island boutique resort in New York City by Jendretzki Design

Jendretzki Design has proposed building the structures atop concrete braces and piers, which could be adjusted to suit the irregular rocky terrain.

Renderings show that each would comprise a single space featuring sleeping quarters, lounge areas, a bathroom and a kitchenette.

Rat Island private island boutique resort in New York City by Jendretzki Design

Access to Rat Island would be provided off the mainland via either air or water.

“There is a small canal penetrating through the island that was carved out of the rocks about 100 years ago that we incorporated into the design so that canoes and small boats can arrive directly under the main building on high tide,” said the studio.

It is approximately 2.5 acres (one hectare) in size, with sand and low plantings. There is no running water or other infrastructure installed at the moment.

Rat Island private island boutique resort in New York City by Jendretzki Design

Jendretzki Design intends the island to be carbon-neutral and sustainable. The resort would feature solar- and wind- power, and rainwater could be collected and treated to provide potable and service waters.

The studio also proposes that the cabins would be prefabricated off-site and installed on the island. Compost treatment would also be included to get rid of waste.

Rat Island private island boutique resort in New York City by Jendretzki Design

The Rat Island proposal looks similar to projects across Scandinavia, with contemporary buildings fused with rocky, coastal terrain. Similar examples are Villa Flåttarna by Wingårdhs near Smögen Island in Sweden and a set of black cabins by Margen Wigow Arkitektkontor in the archipelago of Stockholm.

Other free-standing residences that are on jagged waterfront properties are a wood house by Atelier Oslo in Norway and a gabled white cabin by Arrhov Frick Arkitektkontor in Sweden.

Images are by Jendretzki Design.

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The Mercedes GLC 63

Mercedes has kicked-off the Shanghai Motor Show with a couple of 503bhp beasts in the shape of the new GLC 63 and 63 S SUVs. Available in a 63 or 63 S variant, the sporty SUV will be powered by an AMG-crafted 4.0L biturbo V8 that produces 469 hp in the 63 model and 503 hp in the 63 S. 0-60 in the 63 happens in 3.8 seconds while the S makes it happen in 3.6. Top speed is limited to 155 mph in the 63 while the S knocks it up to 174 mph. The styling should be very familiar to you AMG fans with the wide AMG-specific grille, which is flanked by an all-new LED headlight design. It will also feature AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive, a new “Slippery” driving mode, updated tail lights, optional 21-inch wheels, trapezoidal 3.5-inch twin tailpipes, electronically controlled locking differential standard on both models, and a new colorway option called Graphite Grey Metallic. The new AMG GLC 63 will be available later this year…(Read…)

How to Make a Motherboard Cake

Los Angeles baker and author Rosanna Pansino of Nerdy Nummies demonstrated how to make a Motherboard Cake…(Read…)